Where are we headed?

Its nearly a month ago when we had celebrated our 60th Independence day, A couple of months since the last terrorist strike in Mumbai and 4 days since the Malegaon blasts, another few years back we had blasts in Mumbai, and another ones in Delhi and almost daily in Kashmir. Then just 4 years back Godhra riots, Akshardham attack, Parliament attacks, Babri Demolition, Mumbai riots, We are still in the upper part of the country and have not even covered 10% of the deadly events and it looks to be too many. We can easily recall most of the events in our life in the last decade and half by relating to the nearest deadly attacks on the citizens of the country.
Is it a prolonged civil strife or is it going to be a long series of revenge killings, how much of it is going to be state sponsored, which event would be foreign sponsored, would we turn into a communal state?. India today is at crossroads and the next step could determine the destiny of more than a billion people or 1\6th of the world. Are we doing enough to ensure the safety of the 1\6th population of the world, which co-incidentally is the youngest?. Is terrorism the way it is portrayed and community which it is always linked to are the only threats to this country? We sure have progressed economically over the last decade and half but have dithered much faster from our secular credentials too. Are we doing anything to restore that? Doesn’t seem to be the case.
So the important question is where are we headed? I have been asking this question to myself for quite sometime resulting in this post to be in draft for a long time. But I find it difficult to find answers to my questions or atleast the answers don’t satisfy my vision of the country. So I put this question bare open to all of us, where are we headed?

And now this!


First it was the controversy regarding singing of Vande Mataram and now its this

D H Shankaramurthy: NCERT textbooks, which contain praises of Tipu Sultan, are ‘nonsense’

The ‘Kannada drive’ began the process of claiming another victim when, close on the heels of closure notices issued to 1,400 schools across Karnataka for not teaching in Kannada at the primary level, Shankaramurthy said on September 18 that chapters pertaining to the warrior king should be removed from school text books because he was an ‘enemy of Kannada’.
He was speaking after inaugurating the regional conference of Shiksha Bachao movement at Sheshadripuram College in Bangalore. In his speech, Shankaramurthy asserted that Tipu Sultan should not be glorified in history books, as he had taken an anti-Kannada stand by neglecting the language.

The minister finds Tipu Sultan’s role in Karnataka history questionable. Here are his justifications:

â–ª It is said that the court language of the Mysore palace was changed to Perisan from Kannada

â–ª Tipu also minted many coins, which were in Persian

â–ª The sword of Tipu was also engraved in Persian

Hence, he wants the chapters on TIpu Sultan to be removed from school banks.

It seems BJP is in serious need of topics to incite communal passions. The role of Tipu Sultan in well known in history as a gallant freedom fighter and belittling his image based on his religion is like pandering to the ideologies of the uneducated, particularly from an education minister of a state with such high literacy rate. How does one adherence to a particular language makes one anti-locality? India is a multi-lingual land, languages change every 100 miles, so that means anyone with not liking for hindi is anti-India? The state minister’s arguments are absolutely ridiculous.

Girish Karnad, playwright who has studied in depth on Tipu Sultan and his play “The Dreams of Tipu� was commissioned by the BBC Radio and broadcast in Britain in 1997, has this to say

We are a democracy, we all have the right to show how stupid we are – but I think the minister of education should not exercise that right.

“Maybe it is true that he used Persian. The Mysore court under the British issued notices in English for 150 years – does that mean the Wadiyars were anti-Kannada? This is a ridiculous argument

Tipu was very versatile – he knew Kannada, Marathi, Persian and Urdu, may be even French. You could not rule South India in the 1790s unless you knew these languages

This is not the first time such an incident has happened. Unfortunately I see a trend among the champions of Hindu nationalism to use political power to re-shape history to fuel emotions and garner support from among the masses. The flap a few years ago about the BJP government selectively editing national textbooks comes to mind. Senior historians and educators have denounced the tactics of the government where it hand-picked sympathetic people to serve on councils revising the textbooks. Professionalism, scholarship and the notion of fairness was shoved aside while schoolkids’ history was spun to glorify ancient Hindu civilization and to show the minorities of India as “outsiders” and in a very negative light. Omissions and distortions were used to effect in order to hide the fault and blame for the activities of the Sangh Parivar.

Once the achievements and contributions of to India of people who were Muslim are erased and they are essentially made to look like trouble-makers for India in every age and time, what is stopping the common man from harboring a deep hatred for Muslims and thinking them to be extraneous parasites?
How many people today remember the role of madrassahs in the Independence movement? Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband and others. And now these same institutions are very easily painted with the brush of terrorism. Such contributions are either ignored or all too easily passed off as having an ulterior motive (establishing Pakistan). Which is simply untrue, since Pakistan was an unfortunate last-minute political quirk.

The intention here is not to delineate and claim credit for Muslims who along with everybody else participated in bringing India to where it now, but when these groups are doing exactly that and claiming that Muslims as a community have just been bad news for India, some sort of wake-up is necessary

This article has been co-authored by Hidayath Ansari and Sharique Ahmad

Gujarat Conversion Law Amended To Suit Jains!

Gujarat government has passed the amended anti-conversion law as per which Buddhists & Jains will now be treated as Hindus. It is aimed simply to please the prosperous Jains whose missionaries are converting tribals & other Hindus to Jain-fold.

Saffronites don’t like conversion to Buddhism either but they have been added along with Jains to avoid further controversy as people could realise the deeper design then. Reality is that Jains dominate the VHP (Pravin Togadia is a Jain) that gets funds from Gujarati Jains and can’t afford to displease them.

And the fact is that number of Hindu converts to all religions including Islam & Christianity are nothing compared to Jainism. From 1981-1991 growth of Jains was a mere 4.6% & it exploded to 26% in 1991-2001, which even census officials found strange.

In Panchmahal disrict of Gujarat thousands of tribals have been converted. Similar conversion is going on in rest of Gujarat. In Malwa (MP), an entire community of Dharampals have been converted and in Bihar, the whole Sarak community spread over four states (Bihar, WB, Jharkhand and Orissa) that was for years told by Jains to be the lost ‘Shravaks’ have been converted. The VHP-BJP can’t afford to lose the prosperous Jain merchants in India, East Africa, Europe and USA who send enormous funds to the Saffron organisations.

So no matter how many Hindus get converted to Jainism, it will not be illegal in Gujarat. Of course, the same VHP would not let the Dhamma Sammelan to occur (for mass conversion to Buddhism) and surely any such function would be disrupted by the Bajrangis–take my word.

In the census report of 2001, growth rate of Muslims had gone down from 33% to 29% and also the Hindu growth rate had declined markedly but Jains not only increased but surprised everybody as it was an exponential growth. Numerous reasons were given like that Agarwals many of whom follow Jain religion earlier registering themselves under Hindus but the fact is known to everybody.

I am least concerned if a person converts of his will but the hypocrisy of these politicians and Saffron organisations need to be exposed. Interestingly, for the saffron organisations who are against conversion, a change from Hinduism to Jainism never matters. As Jains are concentrated in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Marwar (Rajasthan) and Madhya Pradesh, people are not aware of the ground realities but Jains are undoubtedly the biggest proselytisers in India. And not an eyebrow is raised!



This place has me a bit surprised. I expected the Malegaon blasts to have a significant reflection on this site if any. However I find an uncomfortable silence even here. This phenomenon is however not limited to IM. Somehow these blasts haven’t met with half the furor that the Mumbai blasts evoked. And I do question the reasons but have been unable to come up with any answers that satisfy me. So why the underplay of anger this time? Because fewer people were affected? Because people are tired of reacting? Because they belonged to a community on which the needle of suspicion often rested? Because they have already said all that they have to say and now little is left?

Any answers?

And please let me know if you think that I am imagining a silence that doesn’t actually exist.

Shanti Se Boliye!


This has to be the news that immediately caught my attention. I don’t need to write anything. I salute Shafique Ahmed Mohammad Salim for his audacity in refusing the cheque. No views on the blasts now. I am waiting with fingers crossed. No conspiracy theories please. The police enquiry is underway and they have found no trace of RDX in the bomb used. This is an interesting incident

The first two hours after the blasts were tense, fears of a riot loomed large when large groups of Muslims made their way to the Wadia Hospital in the predominantly Hindu area to donate blood. Many of the local residents thought this was a mob heading towards them.

But within seconds, the “us versus them� attitude was dropped, helping hands came forward.

Read on the news from HT (10th septemper)

“WHY ARE you giving us bheekh (alms)?� That was the angry question posed by chemist Shafique Ahmed Mohammad Salim (39) to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh as they tried to distribute cheques of Rs 50,000 to families of seven of the 37 dead in the bomb-hit town of Malegaon.

“If we had proper hospitals, so many would not have died. Arrest those who caused these blasts, and we will present you with Rs 10 lakh,� said Shafique. His dead son Sajid (18) scored 84 per cent in his higher-secondary examination and was looking forward to joining a medical course at Jiujiang Medical University in China’s Jiangxi province on September 19.

Sonia Gandhi, eye-witnesses said, embarrassed by the outburst, replied: “Shanti se boliye (Talk softly).� Patil and Deshmukh hastily stepped in, thanking citizens for avoiding a communal flare-up and promised “necessary aid�.

But spurred by Shafique’s outburst, his brother Shakeel, who also lost his son Shahbad (17), joined in. “The government just levies taxes on us while we get nothing in return,� said Shakeel. “Four decades ago, Malegaon was more prosperous than even Nashik. But today it is in a state of decay.

Who is responsible for this?� Representatives of three other families, too, refused aid.

Shafique and the others told HT that they were protesting the “government’s apathy� that had transformed a town once known as the “Manchester of Maharashtra� into a “laawaris sheher (abandoned town)�, devoid of proper drains, roads and other civic infrastructure.

They may as well have been speaking on behalf of the 6 lakh people of Malegaon — at least 70 per cent Muslim — known more for a violent history of communal clashes than its struggling powerloom industry.

“All that we get are promises,� said powerloom worker Javed Sheikh.

“Arrest those who caused these blasts� SHAFIQUE SALIM Bereaved father

Saluting Shaukat: Saved 70 Children, His Own Family Drowned

On this Teachers’ Day as shocked nation is yet to recover from the murder of Professor Sabharwal in Madhav College in Ujjain, we must salute the supreme sacrifice of Shaukat, the madarsa teacher, who saved 70 children of his madarsa even as his entire family 0f 24 was washed away in the flood in Barmer last week.

25-year-old Shaukat says that it was his duty to save the children. And about the tragedy in his own family, “Allah ki marzi’. The video of the story by Swati Vashishta is available here. Indian Express’ Sandipan Sharma writes about the ‘Saviour of Malva village’–Shaukat’s brother Latif was calling from Gujarat on phone asking Shaukat to go and save the family but by the time the teacher took the students to a safe place and came back, his house was submerged under 15 ft deep water. Two days later the army recovered the bodies of his family members. No words of praise can ever match his sacrifice.


Call For Entries : Imagining Ourselves

What: Imagining Ourselves Exhibition
Theme: What defines our generation of women (and men)?
Requirement: Women and Men of the age group 20-40
Last Date: 30th September 2006
Contact Person: Sadaf Siddique (sadaf @ imow.org)

Sadaf Siddique is a part of the editorial team for Imagining Ourselves exhibition being organized by International Museum of Women. She contacted me about the same. Here is the official call for entries:

Imagining Ourselves





The International Museum of Women invites you to be a part of Imagining Ourselves, an online global exhibit featuring art, photographs, essays and film by young women in their 20s and 30s answering the question, “What defines your generation?”

If you have a story to tell, images to share, a voice that wants to be heard, we welcome your submission. We are accepting film, audio, images and text on these issues: War and Dialogue, Young Men, Motherhood, Image and Identity and for an Online Film Festival. Get to know our exhibit by going to www.imow.org and clicking on the Imagining Ourselves exhibit.

Read stories, view artwork and film and listen to music and spoken word from the many young women from all around the world.

Be inspired. Get involved. Take action.

Visit www.imow.org


She further writes:

For the project, we are looking for are personal stories. Not so much what happened in the political landscape but more what life in a conflict zone is like.

About Kashmir:

If you are Kashmiri (or know any Kashmiris) here are the things we would like you to explore: How the violence in the valley affects their daily lives, reconstruction efforts i.e. renewal of tourism, bus service between Delhi and Lahore, the ceremony at the Wagah border, and also the issue of the Kashmiri Diaspora.

Some questions they would answer: Did your family still live there or were they were forced to leave because of the violence? What memories do they have of Kashmir, and does their forced displacement anger you towards Hindus and Indians? Have you or your family ever returned to Kashmir? Do they want to go back and re-settle there? Is that even a possibility?

Stereotypes of each other:

I was thinking perhaps you would like to write about the broader issues. We want to address the ideas of stereotypes between Hindus and Muslims, Indians and Pakistanis etc.

To give you an idea of the kind of stories we are looking for, here is a link to one of our participant’s story about her life in Iraq.

Also please note all our participants have to be in the age group 20 to 40.

Even though the project is mainly for women, they have a two month theme for men in the age group 20-40 as well where they can attempt answering the question, “What defines your generation of men?�. Please do consider sending your stories. Last date is 30th September 2006. Sadaf can be contacted at sadaf@imow.org.

Anand Math & Vande Matram – II

Do I feel good writing such pieces about Vande Matram (originally Bande Mataram in Bengali) or digging out passages from a controversial over-a-century-old novel? No, I hate doing it but every time I see debates on televisions and public fora where nobody just wants to listen to any other viewpoint and the anchors turn so jingoistic that they go to the extent of threatening Muslim participants in debate to change their opinion on the spot, I feel compelled to speak out.

Read Sumit Sarkar’s article in Times of India reproduced here where he says that it is really irrational to expect Muslims to sing it and why. ‘to phir angrezoN aur musalmaanoN meN itna antar kyuuN’…..’dekho, ek angrez marne par bhi bhaagta nahiiN, musalmaan ki deh se paseena chhuTte hi voh bhaagta hai, use sharbat yaad aata hai, angrez meN saahas hai”, the novel is full of such conversations. And the intense hate against Muslims like: chaaroN or hari bol ka shor gunj gaya…satyanand va mahendra ko azad karte hi unhone jahaaN musalman ka ghar dekha usmen aag laga di…

Even if we believe the argument that the novel was a work of fiction set a century ago than the period it was written, the aversion towards all Muslims in the aftermath of 1857 is shocking. And read the following :

‘Gyananand math ke dwar par khada haath mein talvar liye soch raha tha ..’in haramkhoron ke aDDe todkar, is yavanpuri ko khaak kar ke nadi mein phenk denge, in suaron ke baade mein aag lagaka ham mata sumati ko pavitr karenge…jinhone hiranyakashipu, kans, ravan, shishupal, jaise asuron ko maara tha…unke ham upaasak hain…in haraamkhoro ke aDDe todkar tinke havaa mein uraa denge..’

These are few of the gems from the Patriotic Novel. I am quoting Hindi translation published by Diamond Pocket Books. The character, Satyavati, asks British army officer Thomas, why are you here, our fight is Muslims, ‘why have you appeared amidst us, we have no conflict with you’

And the glorious picture of British Raj. ‘Satyanand says….hey prabhu, agar ab hinduoN ka rajya sthaapit nahin hoga to kiska rajya hoga….kya phir musalmanon ka rajya hoga…/ve bole….nahin ab angrezon ka rajya hoga….angrezi rajya mein praja sukhi rahegi, nishkantak ho kar dharm ka achran karegi (ask Mangal Pandey’s aatma!)..so hey uddhiman angrezon se yudhh karne ka vichar tyag kar mera anusran karo.

Watching Shekhar Suman on Jan Mat channel supporting BJP and VHP leaders Sahib Singh Verma and Jai Bhan Singh Goyal on the issue made me sick. The entire audience in the room, 100-odd, were turned emotionally against the dumb AIMPLB member Kamal Farooqi, who as usual went without any preparation and had no understanding of the issue. He couldn’t at all argue and failed miserably in presenting the real grievance. He rather looked stubborn, unable to defend or even put forth his views.

It appears as if the entire freedom stuggle was just fought on this slogan or hymn. This is also wrong. Inquilab Zindabad was the slogan coined by Hasrat Mohani but who remembers him and it is often attributed to other leaders. INA’s Jai Hind and Ittehad, Etemad, Qurbani or Dilli Chalo and scores of songs that were banned find no mention these days.

The aim behind putting it all here is that hopefully somewhere some people will see this. In this era of ‘copy and past’ journalism, media men searching about the song while writing about script for their debates or special programmes can, through such articles, get this side of the picture also.


The Society We Live In

Well if you think this picture is just a normal burial of a Muslim corpse then think again. Notice the police wala peeping in. So they dug the grave of some terrorist huh? Not really. Here is the HT report on it.

Mira Road police on Thursday dig up the grave (above) of Mohammad Alingir (48), said to have been murdered by wife Parvin Sheikh (31) and her lover Shahdab Khan (32) Police have detained Sheikh and Khan and sent the body for a post-mortem, which revealed that Alingir had been strangled A doctor R. Pednekar is said to have helped Sheikh and Khan by issuing a medical certificate that claimed Alingir died of a heart attack. Police are now hunting for Dr Pednekar

So this is an ideal case of relationship going wrong but with blood involved. Everything is fair in love and war and Parvin Sheikh, along her lover, just proved this adage. I hope they would have seen Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna before this bloody drama and realised that relationship going wrong is so common these days and there is nothing wrong in ditching your spouse for the newly found love of your life.

I am sure everyone of us know how relationships can be messy especially with things like communication gap, capricious women and arrogant men. I am not going to talk about relationship problems out here but how they these foreign concepts have corrupted our society and Muslims have too become a party to it. I still remember a MTV show run by none other that Mrs. Mallika Arora Khan and the flirt Cyrus Broacha exhorting youth to get involved in affairs and revolt against the social norm of arranged marriages. There is nothing wrong in opposing orthodoxies of a social system. As an educated and responsible citizen we should try to break free and bring more open-mindedness. But has this served any purpose? Has our society become less prone to violence, crime against women, child molestation and various other evils which were present before? Or has this modern outlook has brought in new forms of crime and open new vistas to commit felony? This perceived conundrum could be debated at length without any conclusion.

Indian society was changing at a rapid pace and Muslims too were being slowly engulfed into it. The austere Islamic laws were being increasingly neglected to the background. Many even advocated change in the laws so as to legalize many prevalent customs and some even rejected the authority of Qura’an as being outdated. Muslim youth wanted to break free from the social norms which were pushed on to them on the basis of religion. Many things set in the Muslim society, which were not Islamic, and transgression could render anyone as infidel. I don’t understand this peculiar behaviour of people towards different aspects of Islam. Dating or perhaps drinking are considered unacceptable and a big sin whereas missing namaaz & roza are normal!! See its the society we live in that is dictating our dos and don’ts.

So on one hand we have the ultra-modern Muslim, who wants to break the rules and still be counted among the Muslims, and on the other we have the orthodox who wants to stick to the society imposed rules. This is the clash of civilization. All I propose as a solution is being religious. Islam doesn’t allow forced marriage but then how many stories have we heard where a bride or bridegroom refused when being asked their acceptance of marriage? Society doesn’t allows that to happen. A person is well within his/her right to refuse someone even if he/she is being forced upon a marriage. A man or a woman can recommend someone, they feel its worthy of tying the knot, to their parents. A woman is allowed to divorce her husband if she feels the urge to do so. And also concepts like pre-marital relationships and cohabitation are totally unacceptable in Islam. People are ignorant of these Islamic laws. Its because this society never taught them these. Education, be it mundane or religious, has always been neglected among Muslims for reasons beyond my imagination. Being confronted with a religious problem? dial the nearest Mullah for a fatwa. “Dial a fatwa”.

It’s the society we live which is the source of all evil. Social norms are regulated by popularity of a notion and not by dictates of Shariah. Now the situation is such that people have distorted the teachings of lslam for their personal gains. Had we been more religious in our outlook then the social problems would never have arisen. The problem lies in us looking outside religion to solve our problems.

So Mrs. (oops Miss) Parvin Sheikh and Mr. Shahdab Khan, its not your fault (assuming that you are guilty); you just acted according to your society taught rules and your lust. Its the damn society we live in!

Sharique (http://www.shaarique.com)

Ghettoisation Of A City & The Nation.

IndianMuslims.in welcomes another contributor to the IM Blog. Asif belongs to Mumbai and is currently working in Pune as a technology professional. He blogs at Take A Walk.

More than a decade a go as a 10 year old in the bylanes of Mumbai where I used to live, festivals like Ganesh Chathurthi and Garba had some meaning for me. There was a sizeable Hindu population in the area especially Gujarati’s and Marathi’s in the nearby LIG colony, who would celebrate these festivals with great fervor. For us kids, It meant lots of entertainment. In the evenings we would go to watch people playing Garba around bonfire and for the ten days of Ganpati they would screen latest movies on giant screens that would be especially put up for the occasion.Then there is this place called Brahman wadi, as the name suggests all the residents in the locality we Maharashtrian Brahmins who it seems had lived there for ages.

There were couple of objects of interest for us, one was the RSS shakha and the other is said to be the house of Nathuram Godse. It’s said his family and descendents still live there and as kids we would often try to peep in to see the family of the person who killed Gandhi, although I now wonder how it would had been beneficial for us.It’s not like there wasn’t any communal issues between majority of the Muslims living in the area but mostly they were minor and were solved amicably. All in all there was a kind of communal harmony in a mixed neighborhood.

Then came the Babri masjid demolition and the subsequent riots in Bombay, many things happened during that time some good, mostly bad and some very bad. Considering the scale of the riots nothing major happened in our locality except for the death of a influential Sena member who was accused of using police sharp shooters on his terrace to shoot people and was stabbed to death within a month after the riots got over. But things changed a lot after that, although nearly no one in the LIG colonies was ever harmed, People soon moved out of it. At first it was the Gujarati’s and then the Maharashtrians, All who could afford to leave the area, left, one after another.

A once mixed colony turned into a “Ghetto”, now there was this Hindu Colony of Brahman wadi and surrounding Muslim colonies. We were asked not to take the route via wadi to the station as it was dangerous though the shortest route, the Brahmins and the Muslims got steel channels erected around their colonies. Each felt threatened of the other and slowly the Brahmins also moved out, now the Brahman wadi houses many times more Muslim families than Brahmins.

This is not the story of one city or a suburb, this story is being played out every other day in this country . So when sometime back I was looking for a house the broker would often tell me why I should not go to a particular colony. On being told that I don’t mind I was informed that the owners won’t sell their house to a Muslim or in some cases the societies don’t allow them to. The trend is spreading so fast that probably within a decade there wouldn’t be mixed colonies at all, we would have ghettos, A Hindu Ghetto and A Muslim Ghetto. For a cosmopolitan city like Mumbai this means death, coz what makes Mumbai is its people, now if each don’t want the other to come close the spirit of the city would die as with the nation.

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